(Phase 8 of the Scarlet Night series.)
Phase Eight: Where Loyalties Lie
“Over my dead body,”
Said body was sitting in one of the chairs before Heechul’s desk. Said body belonged to the headmaster.
“It’s the best we can do for Kyuhyun without exposing his secret,” Heechul stated, glancing at Zhou Mi who sat in the other chair.
Eeteuk glanced at the literature teacher, “You’re lucky to even be here and you want me to let another Council member here? Not just a Council member, but a Hunter? A HEAD Hunter!? Do either of you hear what you’re saying? They get within ten feet of Kyuhyun and they’ll kill him!”
“His injuries are extensive and without proper medical help…” Heechul sighed as he leaned forward, propping his elbows on the desk, “I don’t like it anymore than you do, but I can only do so much here for Kyuhyun.”
“Are any of his injuries fatal or need critical care?” Eeteuk questioned,
“No…” Heechul replied slowly but then added almost immediately, “But that doesn’t mean they can’t progress that way.”
“If they’re not fatal or require critical care, then all he needs is to feed,” Eeteuk said, crossing his arms, “He feeds, his body gets stronger from nourishment and then his body will take care of the healing.”
“You can’t be serious!” Heechul exclaimed,
Eeteuk shook his head, “If it was serious or fatal, then he’d need to do more than feed; he’d need a blood transfusion that will help his blood heal his body. However, since he already has healing abilities in his blood, he just needs to feed for his body to be strong enough to utilize those powers.” His eyes glanced between Heechul and Zhou Mi, “Trust me. I know.”
“You don’t want that person here that badly?” Zhou Mi asked,
“It’s bad enough I have one Council member here… no offence,” Eeteuk stated, “And one of my good friends is the grandson of the founding member for Korea’s branch.”
“But if they didn’t get an order to kill Kyuhyun, sure –”
“I don’t want to take that chance,” Eeteuk shook his head,
“Kyuhyun will refuse to feed,” Zhou Mi stated. When Heechul and Eeteuk looked at him, he elaborated, “He hasn’t been feeding since December. Before then he was living off of animal blood. Regardless of the consequences to him, he will absolutely not feed.”
“Eeteuk…” Heechul looked at him, raising a single eyebrow in challenge,
“I just… I can’t,” Eeteuk shook his head again, “I’ll talk to Kyuhyun and try to convince him to feed. If he doesn’t then maybe… maybe he’ll consent to that… Hunter…”
Zhou Mi sighed, pushing his hand through his hair out of frustration, “What if I said that the Hunter is–”
“You need the Hunter to be here and do their work while Kyuhyun’s asleep. He’ll refuse to feed and he’ll refuse the Hunter.”
The three men looked over to the origins of the soft voice. Taeyeon stood, pushing back the curtains which had surrounded her bed. Approaching slowly, crossing her arms loosely, she continued:
“He’ll refuse to feed and he’ll refuse the Hunter,” she repeated, “He hates feeding, believes it’s surrendering to his vampirism. Asking him to feed or forcing him to feed will break him.”
Zhou Mi forced himself not to react to her last statement. He didn’t know if she knew what he had done to Kyuhyun, but at the same time, he didn’t think the comment was specifically directed at him. Either way, he sat there in silence, hoping his years of training were paying off as he controlled his emotions.
“He’ll refuse the Hunter because he doesn’t trust easily,” she explained, “It’s hard enough for him to trust anyone who isn’t me or Sungmin. But to ask him to trust a stranger – a Hunter, no less – is asking for the near impossible.”
“What do you suggest we do?” Eeteuk asked sincerely,
Taeyeon sighed, glancing at the door which led to the private room, “Feeding is the lesser of two evils… I’ll talk to him.”
Without another word, she walked off.
“Do you think it’ll work?” Heechul asked as she slipped into the room.
Eeteuk sighed heavily, “I hope so because I sure as hell am not letting a damn Hunter into SJA. Not to mention a Head Hunter?” He shook his head as he stood up, “No… we’ll go this route. If he refuses… we’ll find another way… there has to be another way.”
Eeteuk briefly nodded at the two and then left, retreating back to his own office. Once they were alone again, Zhou Mi looked up at Heechul who had sat back in his chair and was absent-mindedly looking at his computer screen.
“Why is Eeteuk so against Hunters?” Zhou Mi asked,
Heechul looked at him, blinked, “Are you telling me you don’t know about his late boyfriend, Kangin?”
“I… I know… but I thought he hated Council members more than Hunters. Surely having a Hunter here is better than me, right?” Zhou Mi suggested,
“Oh, he loathes Council members – no offence – and yes, Hunters are the lesser of those two evils since they don’t do anything unless instructed to,” Heechul sighed as he crossed his arms loosely about his torso, “But above all others, Eeteuk hates Head Hunters.”
Zhou Mi knew the moment his pulse began to race. He swallowed hard as he managed a normal-sounding, “Why?”
“Because it was a Head Hunter who killed Kangin.”
The sudden stream of light from the nurse’s office caused Kyuhyun to raise a hand to his forehead like a visor. When the door shut again, he saw that it was his cousin. She pulled up the chair she had once been sleeping in up to the bedside and sat down.
“How are you feeling?” She asked simply,
“Thirsty,” he answered, his voice just as bad as when he first woke up.
She reached for the half-empty glass of water on the bedside table as Kyuhyun pressed the button to raise the head of the bed. When he raised it so he was almost sitting up straight, Taeyeon handed him the glass. She watched silently as he drank all of it, but when he finished it, she knew he was far from satisfied.
“Did you want more water?”
“No,” he offered her a small smile, “I don’t think I can stomach more than that.”
“But you’re still hungry,” she muttered. After a heart beat, she stated baldly, “You have to feed. Heechul didn’t say exactly what your injuries are, but I heard him talking and without being able to take you to a hospital, your best move is to feed so you can heal yourself.”
Kyuhyun dropped his gaze from hers immediately, his hands fidgeting in his lap.
“What? What is it?” She asked. Usually, whenever the topic of feeding had come up, Kyuhyun would flatly reject the suggestion. He would get angry or defensive; he would say something. This time, however, his eyes had widened as if he feared something and he remained quiet, skittish almost like a child who had to pet a dog after being bitten by one. Her eyes swept her cousin’s face; he would never hide anything from her. “What happened?”
“I’ve already fed once,” Kyuhyun said quietly, “On Friday.”
“Seonsaeng-nim.” It was a statement rather than a question and there was no need to elaborate; they both knew who she was alluding to.
“I… I can see colour,” Kyuhyun admitted, his voice small as if speaking any louder would awaken him and he would find out his world was still in greyscale.
“You can!?” Taeyeon gasped, “From drinking blood?”
“I don’t know… maybe?” Kyuhyun shrugged, “Not… not a lot. Just reds. It’s… I can’t explain how good it felt to see colours again, even just one. But… But…”
She watched as he remained with his head ducked, silent and his hands twisting into the blankets. She knew Kyuhyun’s reservations against feeding and suddenly understood why he had been so withdrawn the past few days. Taking a deep breath, she said finally, “You haven’t changed, Kyuhyun. You’re still you.”
Kyuhyun remained silent.
“You know I love you and that I’d do anything for you, right?” Taeyeon asked, her statement holding strong conviction. At Kyuhyun’s immediate but brief nod, she continued, “When we didn’t know what happened to you, do you know what I did? I looked for you everywhere I could think of, Kyu; every place we had ever been to together. I… I never thought you’d go to the roof since you haven’t been up there for so long, but everywhere else – I looked.”
When he still said nothing, she went to grab the hand which was closest, his left. Seeing her intent he jerked his hand away. He looked at her and saw the immediate hurt enter her eyes and quickly explained,
“I… I think it’s broken.”
She nodded understandingly and then wrapped her hands around his forearm instead, “Kyu, I even called your parents – crazy, I know – that’s how worried I was.” She shook her head, “No, let me talk… I’m not saying all of this so you feel guilty. I’m saying this so you understand how much I care about you. I would never do anything to hurt you, right?” He nodded. “Then you must know that when I say you need to feed, I would never say it if I believed, even for a fraction of a second, that it would hurt you in any way.”
Kyuhyun said nothing and when Taeyeon began to slip her hands away from his arm, he reached across with his good hand and covered one of hers. They fell into a comfortable silence; Kyuhyun was thinking of what his cousin said and Taeyeon was waiting for him to make a decision. When Kyuhyun finally broke the silence, he said something she didn’t expect him to say;
“When you talked to my parents… what did they say?” Kyuhyun asked, leaning back against the pillows of his raised bed, his face tilted towards the ceiling,
Taeyeon swallowed hard, felt her heart constrict painfully as she told him the truth; she would never lie to him, “They denied having a son.”
She fell silent, gripped his forearm tightly, comfortingly, protectively as Kyuhyun turned his head the other way. He said nothing, but she felt the slight tremble of his body and, if she listened hard, she could hear subtle gasps of one who was stifling their cries. She swiftly moved from the chair onto the edge of the bed. She wrapped her right arm around his shoulders, holding him against her as her left hand reached over and kept its hold on his arm. She embraced him, held him tightly, not daring to loosen her grip even a fraction. She was scared that if she let go he would either pull away and never return to her or he would fall and never stand up again.
Because the room had no windows, Kyuhyun never knew exactly what time it was. He wasn’t sure when, but at some point, he had fallen asleep, his pillow drenched with tears he never wanted to cry. As he was slowly floating back to the surface from slumber, he could still feel a slender arm wrapped around his shoulders and the light but warm weight of a hand on his left forearm. When he opened his eyes, he briefly looked around the dim room, the bedside lamp still on. Finally, he looked at his cousin who had fallen asleep beside him; she never left him.
As his eyes swept her face, he remembered the thoughts, the dreams that interrupted his sleep. They were filled with sadness and a great feeling of being lost. He knew they weren’t his own and that’s why he forced himself to wake up. However, what he did see told him enough: she was dreaming about her past.
“What happened?” He asked, his words barely about a whisper, “Why were you so sad and why wasn’t I there for you?”
The door slowly, silently opened a few inches. Kyuhyun looked up and caught sight of the literature teacher. As their eyes locked, the door opened further until Zhou Mi stepped in and closed the door behind him.
“It’s almost time for dinner, so I thought I’d tell Kim-sshi,” Zhou Mi explained quietly,
Kyuhyun nodded before he began to gently shake the shoulder where Taeyeon rested her head. He whispered her name fiercely and slowly, slowly, she woke up, raising her head from his shoulder. Her body moaned from its peculiar position and she slipped her arm from his shoulders, stretching both arms to the ceiling. When her head cleared and she got her bearings, she looked at him in silent question.
“It’s almost dinner time,” He explained, “Go get food.”
“Not hungry,” she muttered as she rubbed the sleepiness from her eyes,
“Don’t lie,” He said sharply.
Taeyeon, finally realizing there was someone else in the room, glanced at Zhou Mi and then back at Kyuhyun, slanting him a challenging look, “I’ll go eat and, maybe even leave you alone for the night, if you seriously consider what I talked to you about.”
“Tae…” He said, his voice low, stern and a warning in his tone,
Taeyeon struggled not to smile; if he was getting angry, then he was going back to his old self. She slipped off the bed and shook her head, “If you don’t at least think it over, I’ll never leave your side, Jo Kyuhyun! You’ll never get rid of me; you’ll be stuck with me forever!”
Kyuhyun rolled his eyes, “Fine, fine. Go eat dinner, already.”
Grinning, she turned to leave, giving Zhou Mi a brief nod on her way out. The door closed behind Taeyeon just as Zhou Mi fell gracefully into the chair at Kyuhyun’s bedside.
“Shouldn’t you go eat, too, Seonsaeng-nim?” Kyuhyun asked, forcing himself to keep his gaze,
“Heechul-sshi said he’d bring me back something to eat,” Zhou Mi explained, offering one of his bright smiles.
Kyuhyun could feel his heart skip at that moment. He never understood it, but his body reacted in the most peculiar of ways to this older man. He had never felt it before, but it felt like his body was preparing to run a marathon. His pulse would begin to race as his blood pumped faster through his vessels. He felt the need to breathe deeper, more and yet his lungs would shake with each breath. His muscles would tense, as if preparing to move, to react, to pounce.
Ever since Friday, his blood lust had increased in frequency, happening almost every day instead of every couple of days. Also, the intensity of his blood lust was often so great that he had to lock himself in his room until the moment passed. Afterwards, his room would be destroyed and he would take more time just to make everything right again. What was most peculiar, what confused Kyuhyun the most and caught him off guard was after Friday, his blood lust had focused on one thing. All he wanted was –
“Did you need anything?” Zhou Mi asked, breaking the thick silence which had fallen between them.
Kyuhyun blinked, slowly registering what the older man asked. Finally, he replied, “Some water?”
When Zhou Mi returned with a full glass of water, he sat back down in the chair and waited as Kyuhyun gulped the liquid rapidly. When Kyuhyun put the glass on the bedside table, Zhou Mi inquired,
“Did you want more?”
Kyuhyun shook his head, “Any more and I’ll get sick. I just wanted it for my throat anyway.”
Zhou Mi nodded, noticing from the moment Kyuhyun first woke up that his voice was quiet and fiercely hoarse. After a five-count, Zhou Mi asked what he had been dying to ask all day, “What happened to you?”
“It was Sunday night. I was in the stairwell with Taeyeon and I told her I wasn’t going down for dinner with her. She left and I went back to my room. I opened the door and… I don’t think I even took a step into the room before I was grabbed,” Kyuhyun said quietly, “I tried to fight back, but there were more of them this time… more than there ever had been before.”
Zhou Mi could feel his heart begin to pump faster, angrier. His hands fisted atop the chair’s wooden armrests as his body began to subtly shake. Long gone was his bright smile, his lips firming into a very straight line and his eyes were slowly narrowing dangerously, their dark depths filled with a fiery rage.
“I was dragged up to the roof. They threw me down and only then did I see how many of them there were: five,” Kyuhyun remembered, his eyes glazing over as his memories crept into his consciousness, filling his mind with painful, angry images from that night; “Without any reservation, they attacked me at once, not caring where their hits landed, only that they landed on me.” His good hand bunched in the blankets and he swallowed hard as a lump formed in his throat, “I wanted to fight back, but everything hurt just… just too damn much.”
Zhou Mi altered his hands from fists to grasping the armrests. He wanted nothing more than to jump from the chair and hunt down those who attacked Kyuhyun. He tried to plant his feet firmly on the floor, but they itched to move, to run, to hunt. He bit down hard to keep the growls forming in his throat from escaping.
“They left me there and closed the door. I heard the door locking and realized, only then, that they had gotten the key to open the door,” Kyuhyun recalled, “I couldn’t move; just breathing hurt so much. I tried to lie as still as I could despite the pain, to conserve my energy. I kept myself in the door’s alcove to protect myself as much as possible from the weather.
“I couldn’t move, but I could still yell... I yelled and yelled for help. I remember that every time I prepared myself to yell, I would have to take a deep breath and it felt like a dozen knives jabbing all along my ribcage,” Kyuhyun’s words had become barely a whisper as he could almost feel himself being transported back to that fateful night. He could almost feel the cold wind whipping at his face, could almost feel his entire body crying out as if it were burning everywhere as a thousand knives cut through his skin. “I yelled until I could yell no more…”
Zhou Mi saw the way Kyuhyun’s recollections were affecting him. He could see how Kyuhyun was reliving the moment and how much it was hurting him. He wanted to reach out, hold him, embrace him, bring him the same comfort that he accepted from his cousin. His heart was clenching painfully with each word Kyuhyun said. His body became overwhelmed with sadness, remorse that he wasn’t there to help him and anger – complete, fiery black anger – at those who did this to Kyuhyun and at himself for disappearing.
Another thought suddenly slipped into his mind and his heart stopped, cracked and nearly broke apart completely. His mind was running through the scenarios, the different outcomes and each time he felt his heart die a little more. He forced his thoughts to form words, forced those words to find his voice.
Finally, Zhou Mi managed a quiet, trembling, “What happened when the sun rose?”
“It was by chance I was even aware,” Kyuhyun answered readily, quietly, slumping back against the raised bed and tilting his head back until he stared up at the ceiling; “I was so pained, so weak, so tired… Sunday night, I didn’t dare close my eyes, didn’t dare sleep. I was scared that if I did – even for a second – that I wouldn’t be able to wake up. When I saw the first rays of sunlight, I was actually happy for a moment because it meant I had survived the night…”
Zhou Mi could feel the hot sting of tears in his eyes as he imagined Kyuhyun as he described. For Kyuhyun, for a vampire, to actually find happiness in seeing the sun… the desperation this young man must have felt devastated Zhou Mi in a way nothing in his entire life ever did. Acknowledging that Kyuhyun’s situation affected him in such a way, shocked Zhou Mi to his very soul. No one had ever gotten that close to Zhou Mi in years, but Kyuhyun had even surpassed those who had gotten close to him and that scared him.
He had known Jo Kyuhyun barely two months and he was coming to care for the younger man even more so than he previously thought. He should’ve realized how far he was falling when he found out Kyuhyun’s secret and even that hadn’t dissuade him as powerfully as it could have – should have. He should’ve realized the intensity of his feelings when he began to offer himself – his own blood – to feed Kyuhyun when in the past he had killed vampires for feeding. He finally accepted how he felt for Kyuhyun when he got the headmaster’s call and he took the first flight out of China, but even then, he didn’t realize the depth or strength of those feelings.
“As the sun rose, I would move around the encasement where the stairs are,” Kyuhyun continued, unaware of the feelings swirling, shifting and overwhelming the other man; “I kept myself in the shadows; moving every time the sun moved. I remember the happiest moment for me was when I realized the sun was setting. Once it was dark again… I couldn’t stay awake anymore… I couldn’t…”
“Kyuhyun,” Zhou Mi said quietly, thankful his voice didn’t break with the emotions completely overtaking his self-control, “You have suffered so much and sustained so many injuries… The only way to treat you and keep your vampirism a secret is if you feed.”
“That’s what Taeyeon said,” Kyuhyun replied quietly, his gaze still on the ceiling, not daring to look at the other man; his heart was already pounding so vehemently and he wasn’t even looking into Zhou Mi’s eyes.
“Kyuhyun, if you ever need to feed… I want you to know that,” Zhou Mi swallowed hard, tried to form the words that his past demanded he not say. “That you can…”
The younger man heard the hesitation, the struggle and he felt his heart stop, freeze and plummet. Head still tilted back, he slowly turned it so he was looking away from the older man, “Leave,” he said quietly.
Zhou Mi felt his breath being stolen. Had he heard correctly? Did he dare ask him to say it again? He could feel his lungs struggle for air, his heart struggle to beat as he tried to figure out if he wanted to ask him for clarification. If he heard right the first time, hearing it a second time would kill him.
When Kyuhyun said nothing, moved not an inch, Zhou Mi felt the words form and leave his lips before he could even hold them back, before he could stop himself, “What did you say?”
The word was quiet, clear and concise. Despite his hoarse voice, there was strength in his tone. Despite how quiet he spoke, Zhou Mi felt as if he had been yelled at; scolded. He slowly rose from the chair, eyes glued to the younger man, silently begging him to look his way.
Hearing it a third time deepened the hurt in a way the first two times never did. Whoever said that the first cut was the deepest obviously was never cut a second or third time. Zhou Mi made his way to the door, pausing as his hand gripped the doorknob, hoping, wishing that Kyuhyun would stop him, call out to him, anything –
Zhou Mi looked over his shoulder, glad for the semi-darkness of the room to hide the glowing hope he knew was in his eyes. “Yes?”
“Since the first day we met, I have never given you permission to use my given name,” Kyuhyun stated simply and sternly.
Zhou Mi wrenched the door open, slipped out and closed it after him. He fell back against the door, gasping for air as he struggled to stay standing. His heart felt as if it were no longer there and, if it was, it wasn’t beating and it certainly wasn’t whole. He felt as if a cold hand was gripping his heart, the cold feel of ice spreading through his body to his extremities, all beginning at the left side of his chest.
He felt the contrast of hot tears in his eyes – no! He will not cry. It was clear, now more than ever, that Kyuhyun didn’t care about him. He wasn’t going to cry again; not for another person who didn’t care about him.
He wasn’t going to cry.
He wasn’t going to cry.
He wasn’t going to cry.
He had done nothing but help and protect Kyuhyun this entire time and for what? He had gone against everything he believed in, everything his past demanded he believed in and for what? He had given Kyuhyun his protection, his blood, his –
Zhou Mi clapped both hands over his mouth to stop from crying out. No, he will not cry. He will not shed the tears; will not acknowledge the pain which was slowly flowing throughout his body. He will not cry, he will not cry out and he will not crumble to the floor.
Just hold on a bit longer.
Zhou Mi was horrified when he felt the burning trail of tears down his face. He had lost again to Jo Kyuhyun.
The next morning; Wednesday; Third week of April 20XX
“I don’t want to be locked up in this room anymore.”
Heechul looked up from his desk to the door of Kyuhyun’s private room. Heechul slanted him a look, “You were hardly locked in; the door was never locked.”
“You know what I mean,” Kyuhyun stated, his voice not as hoarse as it had been the previous evening. He was leaning his right side against the doorframe, knowing that the doorway’s solidity was basically the only thing keeping him upright.
Heechul got up form his chair, dressed in midnight-blue scrubs, and strode over, “I thought after what you’ve been through, that you wouldn’t want to see the sunlight for some time.”
“I already can’t go into the sun, Heechul,” Kyuhyun said, “I’m not going to further myself from my humanity by not seeing it too.”
Heechul sighed, “Fine, we’ll move you to one of the beds out here. Do you need help?”
Kyuhyun shook his head. He took a few steps closer to Heechul when he stumbled. Immediately, Heechul grabbed his left elbow and wrapped an arm behind Kyuhyun’s torso, his hand on Kyuhyun’s hip.
“Don’t play the hero,” Heechul scolded, “You probably have broken ribs; it wouldn’t be good to break more of your bones.”
“I… My hand,” Kyuhyun lightly flexed his left arm to raise the designated hand,
“Yes, I thought as much,” Heechul sighed as he helped Kyuhyun cross the long room, “I can’t do a lot… but they have to be set, and since we’re trying to avoid the doctor and the hospital –”
“If you tell me to feed, I will leave,” Kyuhyun said darkly,
Heechul scoffed, “Like you’d get far before falling over.” They said nothing as they crossed the room, avoiding patches of sunlight cast by the windows. He helped Kyuhyun into the nearest bed, pulling the curtains around the area immediately, leaving the side which faced his desk open, “I’ll get the doctor to come in later today. He can set your hand and –”
“Where’s Kyuhyun? Ah!” Eeteuk swept into the room, and approached him, “I have two doctors here. From Heechul’s description of your injuries, we can’t do a lot because of… well, we can take care of your broken bones.”
Heechul crossed his arms, “How? Did you manage to transport an x-ray machine here?”
“Yes,” Eeteuk said simply.
Suddenly, two women in business suits entered, both holding briefcases but only one pushing a box-like machine on a trolley. They walked to stand by the headmaster, setting their briefcases down on the floor.
“Is this the patient?” The first asked,
Eeteuk nodded, “These doctors have a portable x-ray machine.”
“How much did this cost you?” Heechul asked as the first doctor began to examine Kyuhyun’s torso and then his left hand and the second doctor began to set up the equipment.
“Not as much as you’d think,” Eeteuk said elusively, “But after our discussion yesterday about…” He glanced at the doctors, “Well, I got to thinking that if we can’t bring Kyuhyun to the hospital, we’ll bring the hospital to Kyuhyun. Considering there’s only so much we can do, this is also the best we can do.”
Heechul nodded, “I can’t believe I didn’t think about this, but then again… I didn’t think we’d be able to request such a thing and definitely not so immediately.”
“I have my connections,” Eeteuk offered the first smile since being told Jo Kyuhyun was missing. The doctor who had been examining Kyuhyun’s torso and hand, suddenly walked up to Eeteuk, “Is there a problem?”
“Yes,” She muttered, just so only Eeteuk and Heechul could hear, “You’re right in thinking his ribs and hand have broken bones,” she nodded to Heechul, “However, his body is covered in bruises and the colour and quality of his skin – he must be severely dehydrated! With such injuries – and the extent of them – this boy needs to be brought to the hospital for treatment.”
“You were brought here just for his broken bones,” Eeteuk said sternly, the smile wiped from his face. When the doctor opened her mouth to protest, Eeteuk crossed his arms over his chest, eyes narrowing slightly, “Anything beyond his bones is none of your concern –”
“None of my concern? You bring us here to treat this patient and you expect me to focus on one aspect of his health and completely disregard, keep a blind eye, to the rest of his obvious injuries?” She shook her head, “I won’t do it, that’s not right!”
“If you two don’t treat him, someone else will be sent who will treat him,” Eeteuk warned, “You might as well do it yourself and get paid.”
“Not like this,” she stated, “Not for doing half a job.”
“If you two don’t treat him, it will take more time to get someone else; time he may not have. Will you put his health on your head like that?” Eeteuk questioned,
“You’re putting his health on your head by only half treating him!” She hissed angrily,
“We have the equipment here to treat the rest of his injuries, even his dehydration,” Heechul stepped in swiftly before Eeteuk could get angry, “So please, just treat his broken bones and I will handle the rest.” When the doctor hesitated, he pushed, “He’ll never go to the hospital and if you don’t at least treat his broken bones, then he’ll have no help at all.”
The doctor hesitated, but then turned on her heel and returned to Kyuhyun’s side.
“It’s ready,” the other doctor stated as she began to tie her head back, “Sorry Headmaster Park, we’ll have to curtain off the area.”
Eeteuk nodded as they pulled the last curtain. He glanced at Heechul, “Watch them. They can’t step their bounds where Kyuhyun’s concerned.”
Heechul nodded and immediately slipped through the curtains.
“You belong in Egypt,” Taeyeon laughed as she sat on the edge of Kyuhyun’s bed as she examined the bandages on his left hand,
“It’s not like I have bandages all over my body,” He rolled his eyes as he sat and allowed her examination. Once again, he had the top-half of his bed raised so he could sit.
It had been two hours since the doctors came and left and now, his cousin was at his side, as she was wont to do, during her lunch break.
“They didn’t bandage your head? You’re pretty demented,” Taeyeon said as she gently lowered his hand back to where it had been resting before on his lap.
“I think the doctors should come back and bandage your mouth. You talk too much,” Kyuhyun shot back,
“Sometimes, I don’t know if you two hate each other or love each other,” Heechul stated from his desk. He didn’t have any files open and wasn’t working on his computer. Rather, he had a lunch tray laid out for him and he was giving thanks to the kitchen staff that always brought him up a tray.
“Nurse Kim,” Taeyeon said in a sing-song voice, her bright eyes holding a mischievous light,
Heechul scowled at her, “Evil little brats,” he muttered before continuing to eat.
Taeyeon laughed in response with had Kyuhyun smiling. She looked at him and smiled softly, “How’ve you been feeling?”
“Good? My voice sounds better, right?”
Taeyeon nodded, “Definitely. Did you think about what I said to you last night? About feeding?”
“But, Kyu!” She exclaimed in protest,
“Taeyeon, I promise you, I did think about it, I did. I was even going to, I swear it but then… then something happened,” Kyuhyun replied, his voice becoming quieter and quieter until it was barely above a whisper, almost as if he couldn’t bear to hear the words himself; couldn’t bear to remember.
Taeyeon knew how hard it was for Kyuhyun to trust people, especially after his parents left him. She knew how hard it was for Kyuhyun to even contemplate feeding, especially since he had lost so much to his vampirism. For Kyuhyun to not only trust a stranger, but to even feed from him, was a wonder that Taeyeon could barely believe. For him to dare, to take a chance and to – for some reason – have it hurt him, she knew she couldn’t push him; shouldn’t push him.
“Okay then,” Taeyeon replied simply.
Kyuhyun (and Heechul) looked at her incredulously, “What?”
“You at least thought about it and that’s more than you have ever done. If you thought about it and still cannot, then I won’t push you anymore,” Taeyeon said before offering him a bright smile, “We’ll just continue on as we always have been. At least your bones have been set; it’ll take longer, but you’ll get better.” She glanced at the clock on the wall, “I have to get going if I’m going to make it to the far side of the central wing for class.”
Kyuhyun nodded, reciprocating her smile as she left. He settled back against his pillows, allowing his eyelids to shut. As he did so, he didn’t see Heechul slip from his desk and leave.
“Taeyeon!” Heechul called after her retreating back.
She paused and turned back around, “Yes?”
“Why the hell did you say it’s okay for him not to feed?” Heechul demanded, crossing his arms, “You know it’s vital he heal – and fast – since he’s not going to the hospital. Just because he thinks about it and says no, doesn’t mean we can just let him! We have to –”
“Leave him be,” Taeyeon said, the light gone from her expression, “He was hurt last night. The fact that he didn’t immediately tell me what happened means he’s shut himself off again. He’ll tell me, eventually, but if he’s shuttered himself… we’ll never get him to feed if we keep pushing him. He needs time to get over whatever happened and then, I’ll talk to him again.”
“What could have possibly happened last night? Besides you, his only visitor was that literature teacher, Zhou Mi,” Heechul stated.
Taeyeon nodded simply just as Heechul’s eyes lit with comprehension. She gave him a slight nod and turned to leave. As she was walking away, she heard the nurse hiss angrily,
“That stupid son of a bitch; I’ll kill him!”
It was evening and he was still sitting in his classroom with just the light of his desk lamp to illuminate his area. The sky was overcast, the moon and stars seemingly turning their back on him too. He was leaning back in his chair, arms crossed loosely as he gazed at the grey sky.
He had to do something; that much was true. Despite what happened, despite how he had been hurt, he had to do something. A part of him – the part that was hurt and broken – didn’t want to do anything, wanted to leave the other man to the wolves. The other part of him – the part that idiotically still cared – wanted to do anything and everything for that other man. He sighed heavily, glancing at his cellular phone which lay on his desk.
“Did you eat so much in China that you’ve begun to skip meals?”
He didn’t look over; he knew that voice, had heard it since he was just a young boy. He heard movement, the approaching footsteps of his childhood friend. In his periphery, he distantly noted that his friend had slipped onto the nearest desk to his own.
“Why the darkness? Further yet, why the serious expression?” Hankyung inquired, “Did something happen in China?” When Zhou Mi didn’t reply immediately, he guessed, “You went to see your family, didn’t you?”
“Nothing happened in China and yes, I did visit my family,” Zhou Mi replied, his gaze returning to the window.
“So, what’s with your expression?” Hankyung asked, “It looks like you’re choosing between life or death… well, not that extreme, but close to it.”
“More like… choosing between keeping my place here at SJA or losing it,” Zhou Mi said as he reached over and picked up his phone, aimlessly turning and turning it in his hands;
Hankyung’s eyes widened, he sat up straighter, “What? Why? What are you planning on doing? Did you find that vampire from last year? Are you going to tell the Council?”
“No, I didn’t find the vampire, but I found the person it attacked. That person’s been transformed,” Zhou Mi answered. He hesitated for a moment, his instincts wanting to protect Kyuhyun more, further, forever. However, that other part of him – the one that was struggling to stay alive with a broken heart and a shattered soul – was slowly encompassing him, pushing him, motivating him. Before he realized it, the words were off his lips and the part that cared slashed away further at the void where his heart once was; “It’s Jo Kyuhyun.”
“W-what!?” Hankyung jumped from the desk. He approached the desk, palms slamming on the wooden surface, “Are you bullshitting me right now? Because if you are, after what that kid’s been through… fuck… you’re not kidding are you? Oh. My. G – he was out on the roof for more than a day! How the hell is he still… No, Zhou Mi! No! You can’t tell the Council! That kid has suffered too much already, he doesn’t deserve to be hunted!”
Zhou Mi looked at Hankyung, raising a single eyebrow, “I guess you now know where your loyalties lie.”
“Don’t be like this Zhou Mi,” Hankyung exclaimed angrily, “You saw the state he was in when we found him! He’s been targeted throughout this semester by those snobby little brats we teach and Sunday night they went too far. Now, you’re going to highlight it by calling the Council?” Hankyung paced to the window and then sharply turned back to face him, “Damn it, Zhou Mi. You and I both know what they’ll say, what they’ll do! You’re a Head Hunter and you’re already here; they’ll just tell you to kill Jo-sshi!”
Zhou Mi said nothing. Trance-like, he watched the phone he was still turning over and over in his pale hands; startled that, for once, they weren’t shaking as his mind was filled with thoughts of Kyuhyun.
Hankyung came around the desk, his hands clasping the younger man’s shoulders, “Zhou Mi, did you hear me? They will tell you to kill Jo-sshi.”
Zhou Mi finally looked up at him, blinking as if he had been so immersed in his thoughts that he hadn’t heard Hankyung at all, “I know that.”
“Then why are you doing this?” Hankyung questioned, straightening and crossing his arms over his chest, “I thought you cared about him?”
Zhou Mi looked away, saying nothing.
Hankyung pushed Zhou Mi’s chair, causing the man to roll away from his desk.
“What are you doing!?” Zhou Mi demanded as Hankyung began to open the different drawers of his desk.
Hankyung pulled out a gun from the bottom drawer, fully knowing that Zhou Mi, as a Head Hunter, would always keep a gun close-at-hand. He removed the safety and cocked the gun. He pointed it directly at Zhou Mi.
“I’m sorry, Zhou Mi,” He said quietly, his words forced and trembling, “But I have to stop you.”
Zhou Mi stood immediately, “Put down the gun!”
Hankyung shook his head, his dark eyes filling with tears, “You’re right: this is where my loyalties lie.”
(Phase 9: Pushed to the Limit)